Planes are being sunk to create an artificial reef system for divers in the British Virgin Islands

Three disused planes are being sunk to create an artificial reef system to boost marine life and provide new dive sites in the British Virgin Islands, an archipelago of 60 islands situated just east of Puerto Rico.

An aerial view of the dive site at the British Virgin Islands.
Three disused planes are being sunk to create an artificial reef system to boost marine life. Image: Beyond the Reef

The three planes have been creatively turned into the shape of sharks, and they will be sunk in the first few weeks of August to create a diverse hub of marine life. In addition, the legendary floating bar, the Willy-T, which was destroyed by the devastation of Hurricane Irma, will be sunk into the ocean as an interactive underwater pirate ship playground.

A plane wreck transformed into a shark
The three planes have been creatively turned into the shape of sharks. Image: Beyond the Reef

The initiative is the creation of Beyond the Reef, a group of collaborators that includes underwater engineers and a metal sculptor, brought together by their passion for the ocean and its uncertain future. With the support of the local community, it aims to make an artificial coral reef system that makes a difference, both to the marine life and to the local community.

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An artificial reef system will boost marine life and provide new dive sites. Image: ©BlueOrange Studio/Shutterstock

The team responsibly sourced three abandoned airplanes and worked on them for several months to strip them of all hazardous materials. It created cavernous holes in their surfaces to create handy deep dive access for divers. It is anticipated that these artistic installations will have a hugely positive impact on both locals and visitors by generating both increased tourism in the area and creating revenue for the local community.

A plane that has been readied for sinking into the ocean.
The team responsibly sourced three abandoned airplanes and worked on them for several months. Image: Beyond the Reef

The BVI tour operators that will offer dive packages have committed to asking each diver who explores these new dive sites to donate $5 (€4.49), which will go back into the community through an initiative that teaches local children to swim. This pledge will shed light on both the importance of swim safety as well as respect for the ocean and threats that loom over its future.

An aerial view of the dive site at the British Virgin Islands.
Planes are being sunk to create an artificial reef system for divers in the British Virgin Islands. Image: Beyond the Reef

“We believe that these artificial reefs, created from abandoned wreckages by an inspiring and passionate group of individuals, will become a valuable tourism asset for the territory and brings a fresh new look to our dive product,” says Rhodni A. Skelton, deputy director of tourism.

The wreck of the legendary floating bar, The Willy T
Legendary floating bar, the Willy-T, will be sunk into the ocean. Image: Beyond the Reef

For further information on the British Virgin Islands, see here.